Days have never been darker for Arsene Wenger. An ever growing list of banned and injured game changing players, a frustrated fan base that’s beginning to turn like werewolves at full moon and to add a kick in the ribs, it’s been 115 years since Arsenal last conceded 8 goals.
It was a day where a notable 5-1 drumming of Spurs by Manchester City was forced to take back seat. Danny Welbeck rewarded the Gaffer’s faith in him once again by drawing first blood in the 22nd minute. Welbeck broke away from Djourou as Anderson chipped a cheeky pass over the backline, taking advantage of Wojciech Szczesny’s hesitation and headed the home side’s first off the bounce. Robert van Persie had a chance to make it 1-1 from the penalty spot, but placed a predictable attempt to the left which was well saved by David De Gea, granting him some redemption after recent performances. United took advantage of the Dutchman’s failure to make any impact and immediately pushed back up the field to see Ashley Young net the host’s second with a mesmerizing curler in the top right corner.
With the Community Shield being battled for this Sunday and just more than two weeks to go before the League kicks off, one would expect most managers to have all their pieces in place and working them as a unit. No surprises. All potholes covered.
Why is it then that those who need to do so much in the transfer window have done so little?
It would appear that both the medal decorated Scots and the well-dressed Italian understood their homework assignment, while the Portuguese man, the Englishman and the Frog have walked into the transfer-isle waiting for discount tags.
Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool have welcomed a fair share of new faces. Sir Alex has continuously proved in the past that early preparation has its benefits. A little more than a week ago he claimed the club had completed their spending spree and whether or not that’s true, it’s a healthy psychological advantage. There is still much speculation around the club’s acquisition of Wesley Sneijder, which would be a fantastic bit of business considering they could do with a top shelf player in a more central role. Then again, great progress was made last season despite an average midfield, and if anyone can squeeze the juice out of a Lemon, it’s Fergie. I expect a solid campaign from the Mancs, as always.
Aaron Ramsey’s second-half goal – his first since January 2010 – saw United’s lead remain at just three points from Chelsea, whom they face next week at Old Trafford.
Both sides claimed a penalty at the Emirates Stadium, but the officials were unmoved when first United captain Nemanja Vidic handled the ball in the area and Michael Owen went down following a challenge from Gael Clichy.
Although Ferguson admitted Arsenal had a good case for their own penalty, he felt hard done by.
“It’s too big a game not to get the decisions right,” Ferguson told Sky Sports News.
The Israeli powered a 90th-minute header past Wojciech Szczesny and then removed his shirt to reveal a picture of his late father Avi, who died in December following a motorcycle accident, before breaking down in tears.
On-loan Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge had opened the scoring in the 38th minute while Kevin Davies also missed a penalty for Bolton at the start of the second half before Robin van Persie netted a 48th-minute equaliser.
Arsenal‘s visit to the Reebok Stadium saw their dwindling hopes of lifting silverware further eroded as super-sub Tamir Cohen headed home a 90th minute coffin nail to see the Gunner’s gap behind league leaders Manchester United grow to 9 points.
Daniel Sturridge followed through on Gary Cahill’s on-target effort to give Bolton a well deserved 38th minute lead, which looked to be doubled 30 seconds into the second half when Sturridge won a penalty for the home side. Wojciech Szczesny saved the unconvincing effort by Kevin Davies which sparked a well-worked run of play that saw Robin van Persie equalize for the visitors from a Cesc Fabregas delivery just a minute later.
The Gunners continued to gain momentum and with a platter of chances it seemed inevitable that they would grasp the desperately needed 3 points. Bolton’s disciplined defence paid off and saw them snatch the lead as 85th minute sub Cohen headed home the emotional winner.
With new majority shareholder Stan Kroenke watching from the directors’ box, Wenger’s side appeared to have snatched a stoppage-time victory when Cesc Fabregas was tripped by Jay Spearing in the penalty area.
Robin van Persie scored from the spot but Arsenal couldn’t keep their composure and there was more drama to come, with Lucas Leiva bundled over by Emmanuel Eboue in the 12th minute of added time and Kuyt converting the spot-kick.
It leaves Arsenal six points behind leaders Manchester United with six games for each side to play and the Gunners’ confidence sure to dip even further after three consecutive draws on their own turf.
Abou Diaby and Emmanuel Eboue put Arsenal into a commanding position at Bloomfield Road but Gary Taylor-Fletcher replied as relegation-threatened Blackpool played for their top-flight lives.
Taylor-Fletcher felt he was denied a penalty but Robin van Persie made victory safe for Arsenal after 76 minutes.
The afternoon started in dramatic fashion as Almunia injured his knee in the warm-up and manager Arsene Wenger was forced to turn to 41-year-old Lehmann.
It was an unexpected 200th appearance in a Gunners jersey for the German, who was recently coaxed out of retirement to provide emergency cover in the title run-in.